Not many know that Denzel Washington’s relationship with his father was strained. When his dad passed in 1991 it hardly phase him he continued shooting a movie.
Denzel is loved by so many, there are few celebrities in Hollywood who are as humble as he is. His childhood played a major role as he carved out the kind of man, husband, and father that he wanted to be.
The 66-year-old actor still today acknowledges his mother for guiding him along the way. He is an incredible father to four and he always puts his family first.
Washington’s parents were as different as day and night. His father, Denzel Hayes Washington Sr., was a pentecostal preacher who ran two churches and worked another job, his mother, Lennis Washington, owned a beauty parlor.
“My parents were like night and day. She’s urban, raised in Harlem. My father was just this spirit-filled man until the day he died, a country boy raised on a farm in Virginia,” he shared. His parents divorced when Denzel was 14.
When his parents separated Lennis sent him away to a private school in upstate New York trying to keep him off the streets and out of trouble.
“That decision changed my life because I wouldn’t have survived in the direction I was going,” he said. The actor added that he was “mischievous” and that his “three closest friends did quite a bit of time [in jail] … decades,” according to ABC News.
Speaking to GQ, Washington recalled the time he moved out of his mother’s place and into his father’s when he was 18.
“And he kicked me out. He said, ‘You’re just bad.'” He also found that they had little in common. “The things I did, like sports, he wasn’t really [interested in].
Not to say that I didn’t love him like a dad. But we didn’t play ball, those types of things,” he told The Week. So when he died in 1991, while Washington was filming Malcolm X, he did not feel a thing.
“He died in August. We started shooting around the time that he died. [pauses] I never shed a tear for my father. That sounds like a book or a song. I never did all through the funeral and all that. There was no connection,” he explained. When asked,
“What do you see of your father in you?” Washington said that he was his mother’s son. “I’m more like my mother. She is the toughest woman.” A younger Denzel would get into trouble often but his disciplinarian and hard-working mother never gave up on him.
“She taught us right from wrong. My mother said to me when I was 59, ‘Denzel, you do a lot of good. You have to do good the right way and you know what I’m talking about.’ I don’t drink anymore, I don’t do any of those things,” said the actor proudly.
“My mother never gave up on me. I messed up in school so much they were sending me home, but my mother sent me right back!” recalled the actor of his guardian angel of a mother, according to Closer Weekly.
“What would have happened to me had it not been for my mother?” per Preaching Today. Even as a grown man, he did not stop paying heed to what his mother said.
Denzel Washington says that “Listen to your mother!” is the advice he will give to his 15-years-old self. Indeed just one strong person is needed to steer young minds in the right direction.